Consistent open and honest communication tends to help strengthen a relationship. In contrast, silence or poor communication leads to misunderstandings and most often breakups.
This is also the case for the communication process between HOA Board members and other homeowners. After all, the Board members are homeowners within the same community who are volunteering their time.
Even the best intentions can quickly go in the wrong direction if communication doesn’t exist between the Board and homeowners. With few responses, inaccurate information, and the feeling that the HOA Board is hiding things, the relationship can be destroyed, harming the sense of community.
However, there are ways to improve communications and build a better process between a Board and homeowners.
Although not every issue can be made public, practices and decisions can be clearly explained to all homeowners. Be sure to document and share information on decisions and changes on multiple channels to ensure all actions are transparent.
Ignoring complaints by homeowners will not make them go away. If anything, it will just make the situation worse and create resentment. It’s important to create an environment where Board members actively listen, acknowledge the homeowner’s concern, and agree to reach and share a decision. If it may take some time before a decision can be made, tell the homeowner that and provide an approximate timeline.
It’s vital to hold meetings that their community members can participate in and find out what is happening in the HOA. Whether these meetings are virtual or in-person, the information about upcoming meetings and agendas should be shared on many communications channels to ensure everyone feels included. There should be an opportunity for productive dialogue at these meetings so residents can be heard and information can be shared to build trust.
To ensure everyone gets information and is regularly updated on decisions, proposals, maintenance, and changes that impact their lives, it’s important to have a structure in place to determine which channels and frequency will work best. That way, everyone will begin to trust the communications process as they regularly receive news and know who will provide the information and how often.
Not every homeowner uses the same channel to look for or receive information. That means your communication process must disseminate news across multiple channels, such as digital and print newsletters, emails, apps, websites, and texts and phone messages. It also helps to ask community members their preferred communications choice so they can receive information the way they want it.
Know what channel works for each type of information. For example, email is ideal for general news, newsletters, and upcoming events while texts and an app might be good to get emergency information out quickly. A website is a good channel for storing current and past information as well as bylaws, forms, and other ongoing documents.
No matter how much effort you put into the communications process, there will still be issues and some unhappy homeowners. And, when situations may get contentious, it can be difficult to maintain your composure. However, maintaining a professional and positive attitude can go a long way to diffusing anger and frustration among homeowners.
Once homeowners see that communication is becoming regular, it will be easier to build rapport and develop a tight-knit HOA community. Disagreements will still appear, but you will have a regular, consistent, and accountable communications program that will reassure homeowners and help clarify and rectify issues that arise.
In many places an HOA is required by law to communicate certain information within a specific time period. By putting communications first by putting all of these tactics to work, you will not only be within the letter of the law, but you will also be growing healthy ongoing relationships and nurturing peaceful communities.
Find out how Innovia enables an effective communication process to bring Boards and homeowners together.